July 25, 2007
Catholic Doctors and Good Samaritans
Vatican Aide Defines Physicians' Identity
ROME, JULY 20, 2007 ( Zenit.org ).- The vocation of the Catholic physician consists in transmitting Christ's healing love to patients as a good Samaritan, says Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry said this in an in-depth analysis published by the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations.
Being a Catholic physician "involves proximity and a special intimacy with God, and at the same time represents an opening-up and being a complete gift to others," Cardinal Lozano Barragán said.
He added: "This is the Catholic identity of the physician, to reveal Christ the healer. The Christian medical profession is therefore centered on love, but not on self-interested and poor love.
"Rather it imitates the perfect love of God and has its image in the Good Samaritan, that is, suffering together with the sick, taking pity on them and providing them with everything they need to be cured. The Good Samaritan is thus the example to be imitated by the Christian physician."
The cardinal explained that the Good Samaritan is an image of Christ, who takes pity on the sick and the whole of fallen humanity.
"He is infinite love and is in both those who love and those who are loved. He is in both as plenitude," Cardinal Lozano Barragán said. "The Good Samaritan is thus the figure which characterizes the physician who takes pity to such an extent on his patients that he does everything he can to return them to health."
The 74-year-old cardinal affirmed that the Fifth Commandment, "thou shall not kill," has special relevance for Catholic physicians.
"The Fifth Commandment reminds us that the identity of the Christian physician implies that, because of the love they are obliged to have for God and for their patients, they are totally obliged to defend life at any of its stages, but especially at the stages at which it feels the weakest, which are the initial and the terminal stages," he said.
"Their personality is formed from a clear and absolute 'no' to abortion and euthanasia," the cardinal added. "The whole meaning of human life is contained in the Fifth Commandment -- it is a gift given by God to be merely administered by mankind."